The Government Is About To Start Blocking Porn Sites

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The government has announced plans to start blocking online porn sites and it’s a real downer.

As part of the amendments to the forthcoming Digital Economy Bill 2016-17, the UK government plans to introduce a mandatory law for internet service providers (ISPs) in the United Kingdom, forcing them to block all ‘adult’ websites.

The bill applies specifically to sites that fail to adequately verify the age of their users, reports Business Insider.

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Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley said:

We made a promise to keep children safe from harmful pornographic content online and that is exactly what we are doing.

Only adults should be allowed to view such content and we have appointed a regulator, BBFC, to make sure the right age checks are in place to make that happen.

If sites refuse to comply, they should be blocked.

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Whereas many internet providers have implemented a voluntary age restriction to pornographic content – namely Parental Guidance Controls – the new bill plans to further restrict dissemination of porn.

Protesters of the bill claim that age-verification on porn sites would require users to submit personal details online to untrustworthy sites, and even the government itself.

This would have a negative impact on the online porn industry, undoubtedly making users feel vulnerable to the sort of incident we saw in July 2015 with the infamous Ashley Madison leaks.

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Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, said:

This could lead to tens of thousands of websites being blocked, despite their content being perfectly legal.

In no way should this proposal be legislated for in this bill. There has been no thought or consultation, and the government has not even begun to define how blocking might be attempted.

They have no idea if it would work well or badly, or whether there is serious enough harm to justify such a massive restriction on UK adults access to legal material.

We do however know that over 90 per cent of parents manage their children’s activities online, according to OFCOM, and that 70 per cent of households do not have children.

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Unfortunately, the tabling of this bill sees the government – once again – prove itself to be incredibly naive and woefully out of touch with British teenagers, who will undoubtedly source porn via illegal and unregulated sites if and when their browsing power is taken away.

After all, anybody searching for such material will easily be able to circumvent government blocks via a proxy server or VPN.

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On a more serious – slightly less anarchic note – porn can be a hugely educating, healthy experience enabling young people to explore their sexuality in a safe environment.

When done properly, porn is an art form not dissimilar to erotic fiction or some examples of mainstream cinema.

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Really, what the porn industry and its fans desire is regulated, professional and ethical content, created and disseminated responsibly with the help – not hindrance – from the government.